2020: The Full List

As I already revealed in my December monthly review, 2020 is the biggest year of 100 Films ever. That’s thanks to me watching 264 films I’d never seen before, a figure that just pips 2018’s 261. I didn’t quite reach my Rewatchathon goal of revisiting 50 films I’d seen before, but I finished up on a not-unrespectable 46. Combined, their total of 310 is slightly behind 2018’s equivalent 311; but I also watched a frankly extraordinary (by my standards) number of shorts this year — 65, enough to increase my shorts review list by over 76%.

More on all that in my annual statistics post, which is coming soon. For now, it’s time to look back over the year as a whole with these lovely long lists of all I watched. As well as films of all lengths, there are links to my monthly reviews (which contain all sorts of other goodies, donchaknow) and, further down, a list of my TV reviewing from the past year. To help you find what you’re looking for amongst all that, here’s a nice little set of contents links…


  • As It Happened — 2020’s monthly updates, with a chronological list of my viewing.
  • The List — an alphabetical list of every new film I watched in 2020; plus other stuff.
  • Television — an alphabetical list of every TV programme I reviewed in 2020.
  • Next Time — still to come: actual analysis of last year.

Below is a graphical representation of my 2020 viewing, month by month. Each of the images links to the relevant monthly review, which contain a chronological list of everything I watched this year. There’s also other exciting stuff in there, like my monthly Arbie awards and what I watched in my Rewatchathon.

I’ve often felt this section looks a bit unwieldy, so this year I’ve made it half the size. Any opinions on the change (or, indeed, anything else) are always welcome in the comment section.

And now, the main event…


An alphabetical list of all the new-to-me films I watched in 2020 (though some series are in chronological order within their alphabetisation). That’s followed by lists of other things I watched this year: alternate versions of films I’d already seen; rewatches I’ve marked out for ‘Guide To’ posts; and short films. Where a title is a link, it goes to my review; when there’s no link, it’s because I haven’t reviewed it yet (that’s probably self-evident…)

  • 127 Hours (2010)
  • 1917 (2019)
  • 3:10 to Yuma Hours (2007)
  • The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
  • 6 Underground (2019)
  • 7500 (2019)
  • 8½ (1963)
  • Ad Astra (2019)
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
  • Agatha and the Midnight Murders (2020)
  • Aladdin [3D] (2019)
  • All About Eve (1950)
  • All Is True (2018)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  • American Animals (2018)
  • The American President (1995)
  • An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  • Anand (1971)
  • Andrei Rublev (1966)
  • Aniara (2018)
  • The Armour of God (1986), aka Lung hing foo dai
  • The Assistant (2019)
  • August 32nd on Earth (1998), aka Un 32 août sur terre
  • Bad Boys for Life (2020)
  • Bait (2019)
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
  • The Battle of Algiers (1966), aka La battaglia di Algeri
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
  • Belladonna of Sadness (1973), aka Kanashimi no Belladonna
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
  • Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
  • Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)
  • Black Angel (1946)
  • Blind Fury (1989)
  • Blockers (2018)
  • Bloodshot (2020)
  • Booksmart (2019)
  • Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
  • A Bug’s Life (1998)
  • Burning (2018), aka Beoning
  • Cairo Station (1958), aka Bab el hadid
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
  • Chariots of Fire (1981)
  • Chicken Run (2000)
  • The Children Act (2017)
  • The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two (2020)
  • Clueless (1995)
  • Coded Bias (2020)
  • Color Out of Space (2019)
  • Crawl (2019)
  • Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
  • Crooked House (2017)
  • Dangal (2016)
  • The Dead Don’t Die (2019)
  • Death to 2020 (2020)
  • Dial M for Murder [3D] (1954)
  • The Diamond Arm (1969), aka Brilliantovaya ruka
  • Dick Johnson is Dead (2020)
  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • A Dog’s Will (2000), aka O Auto da Compadecida
  • Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
  • Down with Love (2003)
  • Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
  • Dune: The Alternative Edition Redux (1984/2012)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • Emma. (2020)
  • End of the Century (2019), aka Fin de siglo
  • Enola Holmes (2020)
  • Entrapment (1999)
  • The Equalizer 2 (2018)
  • Escape Room (2019)
  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
  • Evil Under the Sun (1982)
  • Extraction (2020)
  • The Face of Fu Manchu (1965)
  • Falling (2020)
  • Fanny and Alexander (1982), aka Fanny och Alexander
  • Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017)
  • Fisherman’s Friends (2019)
  • For the Love of Spock (2016)
  • The French Connection (1971)
  • Fun & Fancy Free (1947)
  • The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  • Gemini Man (2019)
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters [3D] (2019)
  • The Good Liar (2019)
  • The Goonies (1985)
  • Greyhound (2020)
  • Guinevere (1994)
  • Hamilton (2020)
  • Harakiri (1962), aka Seppuku
  • He Dreams of Giants (2019)
  • The Head Hunter (2018)
  • Hotel Artemis (2018)
  • Der Hund von Baskerville (1914), aka The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Hunter Killer (2018)
  • Hustlers (2019)
  • I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs [3D] (2009)
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift [3D] (2012)
  • Ikiru (1952), aka Living
  • An Impossible Project (2020)
  • In the Mood for Love (2000)
  • Influence (2020)
  • Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
  • The Invisible Guest (2016), aka Contratiempo
  • The Invisible Man (2020)
  • The Ipcress File (1965)
  • It Chapter Two (2019)
  • Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
  • Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)
  • Joker (2019)
  • Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
  • Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
  • K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
  • The Karate Kid Part II (1986)
  • The Karate Kid Part III (1989)
  • The Kid (1921/1971)
  • Klaus (2019)
  • Knives Out (2019)
  • Lady Bird (2017)
  • The Lady Vanishes (1938)
  • Lancelot du Lac (1974), aka Lancelot of the Lake
  • Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), aka Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)
  • Last Chance Harvey (2008)
  • Late Night (2018)
  • Le Mans ’66 (2019), aka Ford v Ferrari
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part [3D] (2019)
  • The Lie (2018)
  • The Lighthouse (2019)
  • Little Women (2019)
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night [3D] (2018), aka Di Qiu Zui Hou De Ye Wan
  • Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman (2006)
  • The Looking Glass War (1970)
  • Lost in La Mancha (2002)
  • Love on a Leash (2011)
  • Lovers Rock (2020), aka Small Axe: Lovers Rock
  • The Lunchbox (2013)
  • Luxor (2020)
  • The Mad Magician [3D] (1954)
  • Maelström (2000)
  • Make Mine Music (1946)
  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
  • A Man for All Seasons (1966)
  • Man on Wire (2008)
  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
  • The Man Who Laughs (1928)
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
  • The Man Who Sleeps (1974), aka Un homme qui dort
  • Mangrove (2020), aka Small Axe: Mangrove
  • Marriage Story (2019)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
  • The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
  • Melody Time (1948)
  • Men in Black: International (2019)
  • Millennium Actress (2001), aka Sennen joyû
  • Minions [3D] (2015)
  • Misbehaviour (2020)
  • Misery (1990)
  • Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)
  • Missing Link (2019)
  • The Mole Agent (2020)
  • Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
  • My Favourite Wife (1940)
  • My Mexican Bretzel (2019)
  • The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador (1912), aka Le mystère des roches de Kador
  • Near Dark (1987)
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)
  • Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2019)
  • Never Too Young to Die (1986)
  • The Next Karate Kid (1994)
  • The Nightingale (2018)
  • The Old Dark House (1932)
  • The Old Guard (2020)
  • One Cut of the Dead (2017), aka Kamera wo tomeruna!
  • Ordet (1955), aka The Word
  • Out of Africa (1985)
  • Palm Springs (2020)
  • Parasite (2019), aka Gisaengchung
  • Paris When It Sizzles (1964)
  • Patrick (2019), aka De Patrick
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
  • Pearl Harbor (2001)
  • Phase IV (1974)
  • Philomena (2013)
  • The Platform (2019), aka El hoyo
  • Polytechnique (2009)
  • Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2017)
  • Puzzle (2018)
  • Quartet (2012)
  • Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
  • Rang De Basanti (2006)
  • Ready or Not (2019)
  • Red Joan (2018)
  • The Rhythm Section (2020)
  • RoboCop 3 (1993)
  • Robolove (2019)
  • Rocketman (2019)
  • Rose Plays Julie (2019)
  • Safety Last! (1923)
  • Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
  • Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2018)
  • The Scorpion King (2002)
  • The Secret Life of Pets 2 [3D] (2019)
  • Shadowlands (1993)
  • A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019)
  • Shazam! [3D] (2019)
  • The Sheik (1921)
  • Shoplifters (2018), aka Manbiki kazoku
  • The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story (2019)
  • Showman: The Life of John Nathan-Turner (2019)
  • Showrunners (2014), aka Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show
  • The Sky’s the Limit (1943)
  • So Dark the Night (1946)
  • Some Beasts (2019), aka Algunas Bestias
  • The Son of the Sheik (1926)
  • Soul (2020)
  • Spaceship Earth (2020)
  • Spider-Man: Far from Home [3D] (2019)
  • Split Second (1992)
  • A Star Is Born (2018)
  • Stop Making Sense (1984)
  • Stuber (2019)
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
  • Tag (2018)
  • Tenet (2020)
  • Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
  • The Thin Red Line (1998)
  • The Three Caballeros (1944)
  • Tim’s Vermeer (2013)
  • Tolkien (2019)
  • Tomb Raider [3D] (2018)
  • Top Secret! (1984)
  • The Two Popes (2019)
  • Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)
  • Uncut Gems (2019)
  • Under the Skin (2013)
  • Us (2019)
  • Vampires Suck (2010)
  • The Vast of Night (2019)
  • Venom (2018)
  • Vice (2018)
  • The Viking Queen (1967)
  • Waking Ned (1998)
  • Waxworks (1924), aka Das Wachsfigurenkabinett
  • The Wedding Guest (2018)
  • Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)
  • Without a Clue (1988)
  • The Wolf’s Call (2019), aka Le chant du loup
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
  • Yes, God, Yes (2019)
  • Yesterday (2019)
  • You Will Die at Twenty (2019)
  • Zatoichi in Desperation (1972), aka Shin Zatôichi monogatari: Oreta tsue
  • Zero Charisma (2013)
  • Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)
Alternate Versions
The 100 Films Guide To…
Shorts
  • Adnan (2020)
  • Alan, the Infinite (2020)
  • Anoraks (2020)
  • Appreciation (2019)
  • Befriend to Defend (2019)
  • Blue Passport (2020)
  • Booklovers (2020)
  • Chumbak (2019)
  • Clean (2020)
  • Closed Until Further Notice (2020)
  • The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983)
  • The Dancing Pig (1907), aka Le cochon danseur
  • David Lynch Cooks Quinoa (2007)
  • The Day of the Coyote (2020)
  • DC Showcase: Jonah Hex (2010)
  • Destructors (2020)
  • The Devil’s Harmony (2019)
  • Embedded (2020)
  • The Escape (2016)
  • Flush Lou (2020)
  • Frankenstein (1910)
  • Frayed Edges (2020)
  • The Fruit Fix (2020)
  • Fuel (2020)
  • Guardians of Ua Huka (2020)
  • Hold (2020)
  • Home (2020)
  • Interstice (2019), aka Mellanrum
  • Keratin (2020)
  • The Last Video Store (2020)
  • Life in Brighton: An Artist’s Perspective (2020)
  • Man-Spider (2019)
  • A Map of the World (2020)
  • The Monkeys on Our Backs (2020)
  • My Dad’s Name Was Huw. He Was an Alchoholic Poet. (2019)
  • My Life, My Voice (2020)
  • Nelly (2020)
  • Nut Pops (2019)
  • One Piece of the Puzzle (2020)
  • Our Song (2020)
  • Pardon My Backfire [3D] (1953)
  • Peter’s To-Do List (2019)
  • Players (2020)
  • Quiescent (2018), aka Anvew
  • Quiet on Set (2020)
  • Reconnected (2020)
  • Shuttlecock (2019)
  • Siren (2020)
  • Slow Burn (2020)
  • So Far (2020)
  • Spooks! [3D] (1953)
  • A Spring in Endless Bloom (2020)
  • The Starey Bampire (2019)
  • Sticker (2019)
  • Stitch (2020)
  • The Stunt Double (2020)
  • Swivel (2020)
  • Talia (2020)
  • Time and Tide (2020)
  • Under the Full Moon (2020)
  • Water Baby (2019)
  • We Farmed a Lot of Acres (2020)
  • What Did Jack Do? (2017)
  • The Wick (2020)
  • Window (2019)
1917

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Anand

Bait

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Chicken Run

Crazy Rich Asians

Do the Right Thing

Enola Holmes

The Face of Fu Manchu

Fanny and Alexander

Greyhound

Harakiri

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

The Invisible Man

The Karate Kid Part II

The Lady Vanishes

The Lighthouse

Lost in La Mancha

The Lunchbox

Small Axe: Mangrove

Millennium Actress

Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Ordet

Patrick

Rambo: Last Blood

RoboCop 3

Shadowlands

Showrunners

The Son of the Sheik

Split Second

Tomb Raider

Under the Skin

The Wedding Guest

Zatoichi in Desperation

Zero Charisma

The Avengers

Alan the Infinite

The Crimson Permanent Assurance

The Escape

Interstice, aka Mellanrum

My Life, My Voice

Pardon My Backfire

Shuttlecock

The Stunt Double

What Did Jack Do?

.

As well as all those films, I also covered many TV programmes in my monthly(-ish) review columns. Just listing those individual posts would be meaningless, so instead here’s an alphabetical breakdown of what I covered, each with appropriate link(s).


Get ready for the best bit of the entire year: it’s the statistics!

The “Thank God That’s Over” Monthly Review of December 2020

Yes, the rumours are true: 2020 is finally over! Though if you think 2021 is going to be significantly better, you haven’t been watching the news. But hey, there’s 12 whole months of it to come — maybe it’ll improve, like, halfway through?

Anyway, we’ll leave worries of the future for later. Right now, it’s time to kick off my annual look back at the year just gone. Yeah, I’m going to spend the next week or so reliving 2020 — but don’t worry, it’ll be limited to my film viewing (like, y’know, it always is).

The headline news is my final total: 264 feature films I’d never seen before, which sneaks past 2018’s tally of 261 to be my biggest year ever! Plus, as I wrote about earlier this month, if you combine that with my Rewatchathon total (46) then I’ve passed 300 features once again. Throw in my shorts too (a whopping 65 this year) and I can claim a final total of 375 films. Whew!

More lists and stats and whatnot about that in the days to come. First: focusing in on the last twelfth of the year, aka December.


#255 Klaus (2019)
#256 Agatha and the Midnight Murders (2020)
#257 Lovers Rock (2020), aka Small Axe: Lovers Rock
#258 The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two (2020)
#259 Soul (2020)
#260 Tenet (2020)
#261 Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2017)
#262 Under the Skin (2013)
#263 Minions 3D (2015)
#264 Death to 2020 (2020)
Soul

Tenet

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  • I watched 10 new feature films in December.
  • On the downside, that makes it my smallest month of 2020. On the bright side, it means I’ve achieved my goal of watching at least ten new films every month (something I failed in 2019).
  • It’s below my December average, though (previously 11.2, now 11.1).
  • It means the monthly average for 2020 is finalised at exactly 22.0. That’s down from 23.1 at the end of last month, but is my highest yearly total ever (it has to be — I’ve watched more films than ever; that’s how it works).
  • But it does mean December remains the only month of the year never to have reached the 20-film mark. Maybe next year.
  • Talking of long-term goals, for a while now I’ve been tracking the dates on which I’ve never watched a film during the lifetime of this blog. You’d think after doing it for 14 days I’d’ve hit every date at least once, but that’s not the case: still missing were January 5th, May 23rd, and December 22nd. Despite knowing about those for a couple of years, I keep forgetting at the right time and so miss them; and this year I again forgot all about the December date until after the fact… but I’d happened to watch a film that evening anyway. Hurrah! Maybe I’ll finally hit the other two in 2021.
  • This month’s Blindspot film was arty sci-fi Under the Skin. That means I’ve completed the challenge, although I didn’t get through all my overflow films, sadly.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched The Christmas Chronicles 2 and Lovers Rock.



The 67th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
A couple of very enjoyable films this month, not least the latest from Pixar and Christopher Nolan (yes, I’m in the “Tenet was good” camp), but, in a Christmassy spirit, I’m giving this to the gorgeously-animated Netflix original, Klaus.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
For some it was the film of the year (it topped Sight & Sound’s poll and placed in Empire’s top ten, among others), but I thought the second Small Axe film, Lovers Rock, was a dull slog.

Best Double Entendre of the Month
Patting myself on the back for this one, but I was particularly pleased with my Letterboxd description of Under the Skin as Scarlett Johansson’s Twin Peaks — because it’s abstruse and meditative sci-fi like David Lynch’s TV series, and also boobies.

Best Re-use of Music of the Month
There are many reasons to look down on Minions, but the Minionisation of various classic pop and rock tunes is surprisingly entertaining.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For the fifth and final time this year, my most-read post was my monthly TV column. (The highest film-related post was my Christmas review roundup.)



I didn’t find as much time for film viewing in December as I would’ve liked; and so, as the month drew to an end, I decided to prioritise my goal of watching a minimum of ten new films a month over my Rewatchathon target. That means I’ve failed to reach 50 rewatches for a second year in a row — but last year I only made it to 29, so at least I got a lot closer this time…

#45 Die Hard (1988)
#46 Presto (2018)

I watched Die Hard on Christmas Eve Eve — because, y’know, it’s a Christmas movie. It’s still a great film, whatever time of year you choose to watch it.

As for Presto, it is, of course, a short film, so I probably shouldn’t count it as a whole number (I don’t on my main list). But, hey, I make the rules around here, and as my chances of making #50 by honest means didn’t look great, I wanted to count everything I could. Besides, the point of the Rewatchathon is to make me rewatch stuff, and I’ve been meaning to rewatch Presto for years.


If I’d found the time to watch more films this month, I would have loved to make space for David Fincher’s latest, Mank, on Netflix; and the new animation from Cartoon Saloon, Wolfwalkers, on Apple TV+. They’re top of my watchlist for January.

Other new releases for December included the surprisingly-controversial Wonder Woman 1984 (its UK digital release is in a couple of weeks, but I’ll probably just wait for the Blu-ray); and, all on Netflix, awards contender Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, George Clooney sci-fi The Midnight Sky, lambasted musical The Prom, and Robert Rodriguez’s surprise spinoff from The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, We Can Be Heroes. Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series finished up on the BBC and iPlayer, with the fourth and fifth episodes/films, Alex Wheatle and Education. Meanwhile, the best Amazon could manage was A Christmas Gift for Bob, an unexpected sequel to that movie about a cat or whatever (I dunno, I’m not a cat person).

In terms of not-new streaming additions, those catching my eye on Netflix included Jessica Chastain actioner Ava, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie facing off in Mary Queen of Scots, Hugh Jackman political drama The Front Runner, and Robert Zemeckis’s Welcome to Marwen; plus Wild Rose, though that’s just jumped over from Amazon Prime. Netflix also added a bunch of stuff on December 31st, but I haven’t had time to go through that lot yet, so I’ll roll them into next month’s failures (or maybe I’ll even watch th— hahaha, no I won’t). Amazon added Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha, while iPlayer has a speedy debut for Monsoon starring Henry Golding.

Finally, I had another ridiculous haul of new Blu-rays this month. Highlights include Arrow’s 4K releases of Cinema Paradiso, Crash (both now contenders for 2021’s Blindspot list), and Tremors, plus their release of Japanese zombie actioner Versus; Indicator’s new edition of Roadgames (which I loved when I watched the Australian Blu-ray back in 2016), plus neo-noir Devil in a Blue Dress; a pair of Samuel Fuller titles from Eureka, Hell and High Water and House of Bamboo; and All The Anime’s 4K release of Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You, plus their new edition of his 5 Centimeters Per Second. If that wasn’t enough, there were 13 (yes, 13) more titles, mostly from sales — including the BFI’s 18-film Werner Herzog box set. Now I just need to get better at actually watching this stuff…


A new year begins. But first, there’s a lot more looking back at 2020 to be done. Stay tuned.

300 Films in a Year (sort of) (again)

I don’t really expect to ever again be in the position where I could whip out a natty ‘300 Films’ logo

That’s me, writing in December 2018. I really ought to stop saying stuff like that because, well, here I am again!

To clarify, it’s the same as last time: I haven’t reached 300 films according to the rules of my main count (i.e. films I’ve never seen before), but when you bundle together my ‘main list’ of new films and my Rewatchathon, I’ve reached 300.

I actually got there on December 8th, but I didn’t twig at the time because I’ve been engulfed in FilmBath still (it had finished this time last year, but this year we’ve been delayed by lockdowns and what have you). The date matters because that’s actually one day earlier than I got there last time. It would’ve been more remarkable if it was the exact same date, but still, what’re the odds it would be so close?

At one point this year it looked conceivable that I’d reach a ‘true’ 300 Films in a Year. That’s not going to happen (I’d have to watch 44 new films in the next 18 days — an average of 2.4 per day, every single day, for the rest of the month. Some people watch that kind of volume, but for me it’s just not feasible; doubly so when some of those days include the enforced family time of Christmas). But if the history of this blog has taught me anything, it’s to never say never — perhaps someday I’ll be telling you that I’ve reached that elusive true #300…

The Amplified Monthly Review of November 2020

Normally I avoid starting Christmas until at least December 1st. Shops and TV channels can begin to flood themselves with Christmas-related product throughout November (if not before), but I feel like “the day you open the first door of your advent calendar” is when Christmas can begin.

This year’s a bit different, though. Never mind the whole “2020 has been shit” of it all — despite that, I was still aiming for December 1st — but then family wanted to watch Netflix’s Jingle Jangle in the middle of November, and that opened the door a crack, until eventually Christmas fully barged in on the final weekend of the month. Presents bought! Decorations up! Built a festive LEGO set I didn’t get round to doing last year!

What I didn’t do is watch another Netflix original Christmas movie: Klaus. I didn’t get round to it last festive season, and as it’s (surprisingly) on the IMDb Top 250, I’ve been waiting impatiently all damn year for the time to roll around when I felt I could watch it. Well, it’s December now, so…

But before I get stuck into Christmas properly, let’s remember the month that just was.


#237 An American Werewolf in London (1981)
#238 Robolove (2019)
#239 Rose Plays Julie (2019)
#240 Showrunners (2014), aka Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show
#241 Falling (2020)
#242 An Impossible Project (2020)
#243 Coded Bias (2020)
#244 Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
#245 The Lie (2018)
#246 Mangrove (2020), aka Small Axe: Mangrove
#247 The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
#248 You Will Die at Twenty (2019)
#249 Influence (2020)
#250 My Mexican Bretzel (2019)
#251 Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)
#252 Ordet (1955), aka The Word
#253 Never Surrender (2019), aka Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary
#254 Millennium Actress (2001), aka Sennen joyû
An American Werewolf in London

An Impossible Project

Never Surrender

.

Normally I include any short films I’ve watched in amongst the list of features, but this month I watched 53 short films. No, that’s not a typo. In the almost-14-year history of this blog to October 2020, I’d watched 97 shorts; now, AMPLIFY! alone has increased my count by 55%. That seemed an overwhelming amount to include in the above list, so I’ve separated them off here.

A quick guide: #247a–e were the IMDb New Filmmaker nominees; #249a–k were in the Cornwall Film Festival South West Regional programme; #249l–s were in the Cornwall Film Festival International programme; #249t–z were in the New Voices programme; #250a–i were in the CINECITY Open programme; and #250j–v were in the FilmBath programme.

#247a Under the Full Moon (2020)
#247b Flush Lou (2020)
#247c The Monkeys on Our Backs (2020)
#247d Players (2020)
#247e Home (2020)
#249a Shuttlecock (2019)
#249b Stitch (2020)
#249c Nut Pops (2019)
#249d Swivel (2020)
#249e Anoraks (2020)
#249f Frayed Edges (2020)
#249g So Far (2020)
#249h Man-Spider (2019)
#249i Slow Burn (2020)
#249j Closed Until Further Notice (2020)
#249k Quiescent (2018), aka Anvew
#249l Clean (2020)
#249m Appreciation (2019)
#249n Adnan (2020)
#249o Sticker (2019)
#249p Interstice (2019), aka Mellanrum
#249q The Day of the Coyote (2020)
#249r Chumbak (2019)
#249s Guardians of Ua Huka (2020)
#249t Destructors (2020)
#249u Nelly (2020)
#249v Life in Brighton: An Artist’s Perspective (2020)
#249w My Life, My Voice (2020)
#249x Embedded (2020)
#249y One Piece of the Puzzle (2020)
#249z Time and Tide (2020)
#250a The Wick (2020)
#250b We Farmed a Lot of Acres (2020)
#250c A Spring in Endless Bloom (2020)
#250d Booklovers (2020)
#250e The Fruit Fix (2020)
#250f Keratin (2020)
#250g Blue Passport (2020)
#250h Siren (2020)
#250i Reconnected (2020)
#250j The Last Video Store (2020)
#250k Water Baby (2019)
#250l Window (2019)
#250m Alan, the Infinite (2020)
#250n Our Song (2020)
#250o Hold (2020)
#250p Befriend to Defend (2019)
#250q Fuel (2020)
#250r My Dad’s Name Was Huw. He Was an Alcoholic Poet. (2019)
#250s Quiet on Set (2020)
#250t A Map of the World (2020)
#250u Talia (2020)
#250v The Starey Bampire (2019)


  • I watched 18 new feature films in November.
  • That’s the exact same tally as last month (and also February), so the same applies: it’s in the lower-middle for the year, coming =7th out of 11 months.
  • However, it’s below my average for 2020 to date (previously 23.6, now 23.1), and below the rolling average of the last 12 months — although, because I only watched 12 films last November, that still goes up slightly (from 21.1 to 21.6).
  • But it does pass the November average (previously 10.4, now 11.0).
  • Plus, #254 is the furthest I’ve ever reached by the end of November, beating #248 in 2018. It sets me up well to beat that year’s record for my highest ever final total — although victory is by no means guaranteed: I need eight more films to reach a new record, and last December I only watched five…
  • I’ve already noted above how the number of shorts I watched this month is measurable on an “entire history of the blog” scale, but, for what it’s worth, the next closest month came last November, also thanks to a film festival, when I watched… 9. Pales in comparison, doesn’t it?
  • This month’s Blindspot films: first, to catch-up for last month, a belated Halloween pick (that I therefore watched right at the start of the month), An American Werewolf in London; and second, Carl Th. Dreyer’s acclaimed meditation on religion, Ordet.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and The Lie.



The 66th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Not that this was a bad month by any means, but it started on a high that was never quite equalled: An American Werewolf in London is exactly the kind of film “What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen?” was created for (honestly, I’m surprised it’s taken this many years for it to make it onto the list), and it didn’t disappoint.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Conversely, failing to live up to expectations was The Mask of Fu Manchu. I didn’t exactly expect great things of it (there’s the inherent racism, for one thing), but even as a pulpy ’30s pre-code adventure movie, it didn’t tick the right boxes for me.

Favourite Short Film of the Month
With so many short films watched this month, it seems only right to extend the Arbies to them; though I won’t do a “least favourite” (seems unfair when shorts struggle to gain attention enough as it is). There are lots of entertaining little numbers in the 53-strong field, but undoubtedly my personal favourite was The Last Video Store, a documentary about Bristol’s still-running independent video rental place, 20th Century Flicks. It’s all about the importance and brilliance of physical media — right up my street. It’s available free on Vimeo, so do check it out.

Best Documentary Where the Tagline Gets Listed as Part of the Title of the Month
I watched two behind-the-scenes-y documentaries this month, Showrunners and Never Surrender — those are the titles they use on screen, anyway, but look online and you’ll mostly find them listed as Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show and Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary. Regular readers will know how much this kind of imprecision / inconsistency annoys me. Anyway, they were both interesting, but Never Surrender was really warm-hearted and lovely as well as informative — if you love Galaxy Quest (and who doesn’t?) then you must see it. It’s on Amazon Prime, at least in the UK.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
A very deserving victor this month, in my opinion: my review of “missing hammer in a Belgian nudist camp” comedy-thriller (that should totally by a subgenre) Patrick.



After being ahead of target most of the year, last month saw me slip behind slightly, and I haven’t caught it up… but I’m close enough that December could yet see me reach my goal of 50 rewatches.

#42 Hot Fuzz (2007)
#43 Fisherman’s Friends (2019)
#44 Knives Out (2019)

Considering how much I’ve always enjoyed Hot Fuzz (and how often it’s on ITV2), it’s a little remarkable that I’ve only watched it once since seeing it at the cinema in 2007; and, according to my records, that was around when it came out on DVD, in late ’07 or early ’08 — so I haven’t seen it in over 12 years. (Don’t ask me how long it’s been since Shaun of the Dead…) To think: all the mediocre movies I’ve watched in that time, and I could’ve just been rewatching this classic. Oh well.

At the other end of the time spectrum, I only first watched Fisherman’s Friends this May, and Knives Out this March. Both were family-appeasing viewing choices — not that I dislike either (indeed, I’d been specifically wanting to rewatch Knives Out). I’ve not got round to reviewing either in full yet, but I will someday (probably).


Cinemas may’ve been closed again thanks to Lockdown 2, but new releases continue to debut online — like Christmas lesbian romcom Happiest Season, which I’ve heard good things about; or Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles 2, which hopefully is as likeable as the first one; or Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, which I’ve not heard anything good about. It does star Amy Adams and Glenn Close, though, so I expect it’ll be part of the awards conversation nonetheless.

The same conditions that have kept theatrical releases to a minimum have seen the streamers all pile on new content, though little of it’s brand-new. Particularly drawing my attention on Netflix was Assassination Nation, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the latter because it’s reminded me I still haven’t watched the 3D Blu-ray I imported from Australia. On social media, they made a big fuss of having Spider-Verse in 4K — I believe it’s a 2K upscale, but its visual style seems made for HDR enhancement. So, basically, I need to rewatch it twice, once in 3D, once in 4K…

iPlayer is also offering original movies at the minute — kind of — with Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series. I watched the first, but need to catch up on Lovers Rock and Red, White and Blue. They also have a speedy TV premiere for recent UK release Monsoon. Over on Amazon, the best they could offer is Military Wives — the kind of thing I might watch with my mum over Christmas. They also added Parasite, but I (a) have seen it, and (b) own it on disc.

In fact, I own it on disc twice, thanks to picking up the US 4K release back in July (they’ve just released it on 4K here, but I think the import still cost me less), and buying the Criterion edition this month. I’m not one of those Criterion completists buying it for the sake of it being a Criterion — I want the special features, and also the black-and-white version (though that’s on Amazon Prime too, so…) It was one of many titles I imported thanks to Barnes & Noble’s biannual Criterion sale — although, as they still refuse to ship to the UK, I actually bought stuff price-matched from Amazon.com. Other titles I picked up included Ghost Dog (been waiting for that on Blu-ray for years), Christopher Nolan’s Following, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, Marriage Story, and the Three Fantastic Journeys bu Karel Zeman box set — the UK editions were still slightly cheaper, but pop-up packaging? Yes please! While I was at it, I also imported a bunch of other US stuff I’ve wanted for a while: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (I’ve never heard great things about the film, but the US release is a 4K-HFR / 3D combo pack that entices me), Shout’s release of Creepshow (as the UK release is long out of print and it’s one of the few George Romero titles I didn’t own), the 4K restoration of Rian Johnson’s Brick, animation Long Way North, The Mask of Zorro in 4K, the 26th Zatoichi film (upgrading my Arrow DVD)… and a few others too (this list is getting plenty long enough, and I’ve not even started on my UK purchases).

Yes, various UK sales further decimated my bank account this month. There was a UK Criterion offer, too, in which I picked up The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Life of Oharu, and Metropolitan; Indicator had a Hammer sale, from which I nabbed two of their box sets (Volumes Three and Four, if anyone’s interested); from Arrow’s Noirvember offer I snagged Dark City, Hangmen Also Die, and (after many years of never quite buying them) both the 1946 and 1964 versions of The Killers; plus random discounts on the 4K box sets of Sicario 1 and 2, and the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.

Oh, and there were new releases too! The headliner has to be Second Sight’s incredible 4K box set of Dawn of the Dead, a behemoth packed with alternate cuts, special features, and books — not booklets, literal books. Amazing. Also available in multiple fancily-packaged editions was the 4K release of V for Vendetta, though I just went for the regular version in the end. There were also two new Jackie Chan titles from 88 Films (Shaolin Wooden Men and New Fist of Fury); plus another Eastern action classic from Eureka, The Bride with White Hair; and Japanese sci-fi from Eureka too, in the form of Mothra, The H-Man, and Battle in Outer Space. More noir, as well, in the form of Indicator’s Columbia Noir #1 box set — that number at the end promising I’ll be spending much money on this series in the years to come. And, finally, rounding out the month, a Train to Busan trilogy box set, meaning I finally picked up that zombie modern classic, along with the anime prequel (which I don’t much care for) and the new sequel, Peninsula.

Christ, look at that list — anyone’d think I’d just had a Christmas present haul! And I left half-a-dozen titles out just to speed things up. But no, Christmas is still to come…


Iiiiit’s Chriiiiiistmaaaaas! I have been waiting pretty much all year to be able to watch Klaus (can’t watch a Christmas film from January to November, no no no), so if I don’t get round to it I’ll be doing some serious self-chastising in my December review.

The Horrific Monthly Review of October 2020

Don’t be fooled by the title, dear reader: I’m not one of those people who spends all of October watching horror movies. But the world we live in is horrifying enough for that adjective to apply to pretty much any month this year, isn’t it?

So as England prepares — not for No Time to Die, as we’d hoped for from November — but for Time to Try Not to Die in Lockdown 2, let’s look back at the month that was the tenth in the seemingly-never-ending year that is 2020…


#219 Lancelot du Lac (1974), aka Lancelot of the Lake
#220 Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
#221 Patrick (2019), aka De Patrick
#222 Dick Johnson is Dead (2020)
#223 The Good Liar (2019)
#224 Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
#225 Some Beasts (2019), aka Algunas Bestias
#226 Luxor (2020)
#227 The American President (1995)
#228 Down with Love (2003)
#229 Puzzle (2018)
#230 Misery (1990)
#231 The Mole Agent (2020)
#232 Waxworks (1924), aka Das Wachsfigurenkabinett
#233 Vampires Suck (2010)
#234 The Face of Fu Manchu (1965)
#235 Tim’s Vermeer (2013)
#236 Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Patrick

Tim's Vermeer

Crazy Rich Asians

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  • I watched 18 new feature films in October.
  • That’s in the lower-middle for 2020 so far — 7th out of 10 months, to be precise.
  • Unsurprisingly, then, it fails to equal my 2020 average (previously 24.2, now 23.6).
  • It also fails to equal my rolling average for the last 12 months, but as last October was so poor (just four films), it still increases the average, from 19.9 to 21.1.
  • Continuing on the bright side, it surpasses the October average (previously 13.2, now 13.5).
  • #236 is also the furthest I’ve ever reached by the end of October, besting #222 in 2018.
  • You might think that makes 2020 a lock for my #1 year ever, but it’s not so simple (as my previous overviews of predictions have shown). There are 26 films to go to a new record — 13 per month for November and December, which sounds very doable (my worst month this year totalled 12), but it’s worth noting that the November average is 10.4 and for December it’s 11.2, so never say never.
  • As for the once-seemingly-possible target of #300, that would mean 32 per month in November and December. Literally, not impossible (I’ve managed over 30 in two consecutive months twice before), but also not likely (I’ve only managed over 30 in two consecutive months twice before). Time will tell…
  • This month’s Blindspot film was supposed to be An American Werewolf in London. For most of the year I’d had that singled out to be October’s pick, for obvious reasons. I considered watching it earlier in the month, but decided to leave it for nearer Halloween. Then as Halloween neared I thought, “why not save it for the day itself?” Because Halloween is the last day of the month and the best-laid plans are apt to be upended, that’s why not! So, yeah — oops. I’m aiming to watch it today to catch up quickly.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched Crazy Rich Asians and The Good Liar.



The 65th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
I watched a lot of films I liked this month — indeed, there was only really one choice for the “least favourite” category. But in terms of favourites, it was quite easy to single one out, too, because one film really blew me away: Tim’s Vermeer, a documentary about the point where art, technology, and obsession meet. It’s fascinating and genuinely awe-inspiring.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
I was able to watch a few screeners this month for films showing as part of AMPLIFY! Maybe it’s wrong for me to pick one of those here (shh, don’t tell anyone!), but, well, Some Beasts was easily the worst film I watched this month. Not because it’s badly made, but a final-act plot swerve struck me as wholly distasteful and poorly handled. More on that whenever I get round to reviewing it.

Most Layers in a Title of the Month
Before viewing, I wondered if Crazy Rich Asians was about Asians who were crazy-rich or rich Asians who were crazy. Turns out, it’s both! So many layers! (Two. That’s two layers.)

Most Penises of the Month
One of Borat’s most famous scenes may be a nude wrestling/chase scene between two men, but that’s got nothing on Patrick, a whole film set in a nudist camp. (Don’t let that turn you off / switch you on, mind — there’s a lot of good stuff in Patrick, and the nudity is fairly incidental.)

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
…goes to my latest TV column again, for the fourth time this year. I’ve gotta say, this one did have one of my favourite header collages I’ve put together (the entire thing uses mirroring! Me so clever). (The highest film-related post was a distant second, Bloodshot.)



At one point I was over a month ahead on my Rewatchathon goal for the year. That lead has been slowly eroded, and now I’m officially one film behind. Still, with just two months to go, it’s certainly not impossible that I’ll get there.

#40 Live and Let Die (1973)
#41 Mystery Men (1999)

As a Bond film, Live and Let Die will get my ‘Guide To’ treatment at some point. For now, I put some thoughts on Letterboxd.

Superhero comedy Mystery Men was included in my 100 Favourites series back in 2016, but I hadn’t actually watched it in a decade or more. I’m happy to report that I did still enjoy it. It takes a while to warm up — basically until the whole team has been introduced, which takes longer than you might think — but, once it gets there, it’s frequently gold. Will it make the next iteration of my 100 Favourites list? It’s more borderline than I might’ve expected. It’s not a perfect movie, but it is very enjoyable overall.


Big titles have continued to flee, and with a new lockdown cinemas will be closing again, but a few releases did sneak out in the meantime, like acclaimed horror Saint Maud, and… um… Cats & Dogs 3? Eesh. London Film Festival organised outreach screenings across the UK, but the only one that made it into the schedule at my local was closing-night film Ammonite. And in the sort-of-cinema column, Robert Zemeckis’s re-adaptation of The Witches went straight to premium streaming. I wouldn’t pay £16 for a rental of that anyway, so the mixed-to-poor reviews certainly didn’t sway me.

Another re-adaptation, The Secret Garden, finally had a cinema release, but having been sold off to Sky as a Sky Cinema Original, it was more readily accessible at home. This month the streamer also offered up Underwater, Seberg, and films not starring Kristen Stewart, like Waves. But Now TV finally stopped giving me good cut-price offers to resubscribe, so I likely won’t be able to consider watching any of those until next Oscar season, when I resubscribe to watch the ceremony.

The other two big streamers had some significant originals too. Netflix offered yet another re-adaptation of classic English literature, Rebecca, plus Aaron Sorkin’s latest, The Trial of the Chicago 7; plus David Attenborough bio/polemic, A Life on Our Planet, and another Adam Sandler thing, Hubie Halloween. Over on Amazon, the headline grabber was Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (as you might’ve noticed in my viewing list, I finally watched the original in preparation, but haven’t watched the sequel yet), and a quartet of original chillers from Blumhouse — Black Box, The Lie, Evil Eye, and Nocturne — which I don’t think have garnered great reviews, but which look interesting nonetheless. Amazon also boasted another quartet this month: the Indiana Jones series. I’ve been meaning to rewatch them forever — indeed, I’ve owned the Blu-ray set since 2012 and never watched it. I ought to get round to that before they turn up on 4K and I buy them again…

And talking of purchases, I’m still failing to stop myself buying tonnes more stuff. Indy may not be on 4K yet, but that other Spielberg-related ’80s geek trilogy, Back to the Future, did make its bow on the format this month. Of course I bought it. I nabbed an even bigger box set in Amazon’s Prime Day sale: the Universal Classic Monsters complete 30-film Blu-ray set, which includes 38 films (because, thanks to Universal’s lazy bundling of existing sets, there are seven duplicate movies in the set (whole discs could’ve just been taken out), and one film they only count as an extra, the Spanish version of Dracula). Other horror-ish pickups included Indicator’s new Fu Manchu set (officially out tomorrow; I’ve already watched the first (#234 above)); Japanese classic House; and another Universal / James Whale / Boris Karloff effort, The Old Dark House (which I watched on streaming back in June and loved). New releases included interactive DC animation Batman: Death in the Family, 88 Films’ latest Jackie Chan classic, Spiritual Kung Fu, and an import of Requiem for a Dream in 4K (it’s out in the UK later this month, but the import was cheaper). Finally, a few more to rewatch in 4K, thanks to a 3-for-2 offer: Bad Times at the El Royale, Die Hard, and Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. Whew!


Lockdown 2: Covid Boogaloo.

The Man Who Killed the Monthly Review of September 2020

This month started off strong: reaching #200 (for only the third time ever); watching plenty of films; posting a lot of reviews… but then it tapered off on all fronts. Partly this is because I’ve found myself back in the employ of FilmBath Festival — yes, even in this crazy COVID world, we’re putting on a film festival. Plus an online offering that will be accessible nationwide… but shh, that’s not been officially announced yet! More details in the coming weeks.

For now, back to the last month on this blog…


#199 All Is True (2018)
#200 In the Mood for Love (2000), aka Fa yeung nin wah
#201 Anand (1971)
#202 Ikiru (1952)
#203 The Man Who Sleeps (1974), aka Un homme qui dort
#204 All About Eve (1950)
#205 A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019)
#206 Vice (2018)
#207 The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
#208 For the Love of Spock (2016)
#209 Guinevere (1994)
#210 Blind Fury (1989)
#211 Waking Ned (1998)
#212 Out of Africa (1985)
#213 The Hippopotamus (2017)
#214 Enola Holmes (2020)
#215 Fanny and Alexander (1982), aka Fanny och Alexander
#216 The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
#217 Lost in La Mancha (2002)
#218 He Dreams of Giants (2019)
Anand

Farmageddon

Fanny and Alexander

.


  • I watched 20 new feature films in September.
  • That makes it my 25th month with 20+ films, and my first 20+ September in five years.
  • It surpasses my September average (previously 11.9, now 12.5) and the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 18.9, now 19.9), but falls short of 2020’s average to date (previously 24.75, now 24.2).
  • Early in the month I reached my 200th film for this year. I wrote about the history and stats of that achievement here.
  • Moving beyond #200 means 2020 is already my second biggest year ever, with three months still to go
  • #218 is the furthest I’ve reached by the end of September (my previous best was #206 in 2018), meaning a new all-time record is not impossible — but there are still 44 films to go to get there, more than double the number I watched in October-to-December last year.

As for the films themselves…

  • Back in July, I identified that Vice was the only film I needed to see to complete the last five years of Oscar Best Picture nominees (that’s 43 films). So, now I’ve done that, it’s on to the last decade of the same (which is 88 films), for which I still need to watch another ten. Let’s see how long that takes…
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (see the Arbies for more about this).
  • This month I watched four Blindspot films. That makes it sound like I’m doing it very, very wrong, but allow me to explain.
  • Firstly, I needed to catch up for missing one last month — that was In the Mood for Love.
  • Then I needed to watch one for this month, of course — that was Ingmar Bergman’s magnum opus, Fanny and Alexander.
  • Then you may remember I had a list of eight ‘overflow’ films to also consider watching — this month, I watched two, Ikiru and All About Eve.
  • So, I’m now back on track for the main list and over halfway through the overflow. But I’ll still need to watch exactly one overflow film a month (in addition to a main list film) for the rest of the year if I want to finish all 20.



The 64th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Rather spoilt for choice this month, what with four Blindspot films that mostly lived up to expectations, plus several other great and/or very enjoyable movies too. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Fanny and Alexander — I’ve not always got on with Ingmar Bergman’s films before, so his over-three-hour magnum opus could’ve been horrific for me, but I actually thought it was fantastic.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Un homme qui dort? More like Un homme qui t’endort.

Best Blind Swordsman of the Month
I had intended to save Blind Fury until after I’d finished the Zatoichi series (which I really should have done by now, but I’ve let various things get in the way). For those who don’t know, it’s a modern-day US-set remake of Zatoichi Challenged — a thoroughly bizarre idea, so it seemed best to leave it until I was done with the series proper. But then I noticed it was leaving Amazon Prime imminently, so I decided I’d better get on it. Such are the ways of the streaming era. It’s not as good as the real thing, but it was more fun than I expected.

Most Debatable Viewing Order of the Month
I’ve owned acclaimed (un)making-of documentary Lost in La Mancha on DVD but never got round to watching it — so long, in fact, that Terry Gilliam was finally able to actually make the film it’s about, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, and it’s now streaming on Sky. The makers of La Mancha also documented that successful effort, in a new film called He Dreams of Giants, which I recently had access to a screener for. So the question became: which order to watch them in? I’m not sure the one I plumped for (see #216–218) was the right way to go about it, but then neither of the alternatives (La ManchaDon QuixoteGiants; or La ManchaGiantsDon Quixote) seemed perfect either, so this was as good as any. In fact, with hindsight, I think it might have been the best way — watching the docs before the resultant feature would’ve set too many unnecessary expectations.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
For only the third time this year (there have been other years where it happened most months), my most-viewed new post was my latest TV column. (The most-viewed film post was, as befits its status as a modern masterpiece, my review of Love on a Leash.)



The Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies have made up over a third of my Rewatchathon so far this year. With them finished, there’s now a hole where they used to be as a go-to choice, meaning my pace has slipped slightly… but I’m still currently on target for 50 by the end of the year, so that’s okay (for now).

#38 Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)
#39 Mission: Impossible II (2000)

I wrote my review of Jodorowsky’s Dune after that rewatch, so my Letterboxd log adds little more than that I enjoyed it more second time round.

M:I-2 is a different kettle of fish: you can find my latest opinion of the film itself on Letterboxd (short version: I still really like it). As for its place in the Rewatchathon, it continues my rewatch of the Mission: Impossible movies in 4K that I started back in May. Then I mentioned that it’s the first two films that feature the biggest upgrades in PQ with their 4K transfers. M:I-1 is the more strikingly good-looking film, but this one looks great most of the time too. The downsides are that the overall improvement reveals how much softness there is in some of the original photography, and skin tones look too hot in a couple of scenes (though I couldn’t quite be sure if I needed to fiddle with my TV settings, or if it was the transfer’s fault, or just the way the film was shot). Still, a resounding improvement over the old Blu-ray.


The reopening of cinemas continues with Bill & Ted Face the Music making its UK debut on the big screen only, and… that’s probably it: Tenet’s underperformance at the US box office has the studios running scared again. Bond is still on schedule for November, but will that hold? Only time will tell.

Another film that got a cinema release in some territories was Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan. Of course, it went direct to streaming everywhere that Disney+ is available, and that includes the UK, even though our cinemas are open. £20 vs a £6 cinema ticket? Hmm… Anyway, I guess that didn’t do well either, given that Disney have moved the rest of their big titles into 2021 rather than send them to Disney+ too.

Also on streaming, Netflix had a couple of big originals in the shape of Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things and The Devil All the Time. Both set Film Twitter and Letterboxd abuzzing, but I haven’t been in the mindset for their heaviness yet. There was also the hugely controversial Cuties, which is a debate I’m not interested in reigniting, and they ended the month with a new adaptation of gay play The Boys in the Band. Also catching my eye on Netflix were a string of titles I’ve bought on Blu-ray but not got round to watching: First Man, The Handmaiden, the new Halloween… Shame on me. (They’ve also added various things I have seen and reviewed, of course, but that’s not the point of this section.)

Over on Amazon, no brand-new films that I could see, but they did have the streaming premieres of Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen and acclaimed crime drama Queen & Slim. They’ve also now got Crazy Rich Asians, after it ended its time on Now TV / Sky Cinema. Talking of which, after having a subscription to that for most of the year — first for the Oscars, then via a series of free and heavily discounted months — I cancelled it at the start of this month because it was going to be full price, only for them to now offer me a free month. Additions there this month include The Good Liar, Motherless Brooklyn, and Judy.

BBC iPlayer’s also had a pretty strong slate of movies recently, including recent-ish titles moving in from other streamers (Molly’s Game, I, Tonya) and HD versions of classics (Doctor Zhivago, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, etc). Also, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, which I’ve not seen for a very long time indeed and ought to take the chance to rewatch in HD (that feels like the kind of film that’s due a 4K release from someone like Arrow, but who holds the rights I don’t know).

Finally, my disc purchases were a lot calmer than last month’s 54 films. It’s taken five years, but I finally completed my collection of the “Top 5 Films I Hadn’t Heard of Before Watching The Story of Film But Now Really Want to See” by importing the US release of Hyenas. I managed to find a copy of Doctor Sleep with the director’s cut included (if I’d realised they really meant it when they said it was “limited edition”, I’d’ve bought it sooner! After being out of stock on HMV’s website for months, they seem to have found some additional copies, so fortunately I only paid normal price for it). Rewatching Jodorowsky’s Dune inspired me to purchase Arrow’s new Jodorowsky box set, which I fear I may regret (his films aren’t half odd looking), but there we go (knowing me, I’ll not get round to them for years / ever anyway).

I also picked up… Bullitt (primarily for one of its special features, feature documentary The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing) … the US 4K release of anime Ghost in the Shell (though I accidentally ended up with two copies, so I need to get that on eBay) … and re-bought all three Ghostbusters films (the original pair in a new-to-the-UK 4K box set, which duplicates the discs from last year’s limited and expensive US 35th anniversary set; and the 2016 reboot in 3D, which I got brand-new for £1.50. The fact most people have given up on 3D is a boon for those of us who haven’t).


October means one thing for some people: Halloween. I doubt I’ll be so singularly focused (I never have been before — why start now?), and I’m not even sure what I’ll do for the day itself (because it is just a day, not a season, or even a month — sorry, people). Between 2015 and 2019 I spent it covering the Twilight saga, but I finished that last year (thank God) so need a new notion. Although there’s always that Twilight spoof — which, according to IMDb voters, is the 46th worst film of all time, ranking lower than any real Twilight film. Dare I brave the horror?

200 Films in 2020

For only the third time in this blog’s 14-year history, I’ve reached 200 Films in a Year.

The film I chose for #200 was Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love, perhaps the most acclaimed film of the 2000s that I was yet to see, and part of this year’s Blindspot list (I missed a Blindspot film in August, so this is catchup). I’ll write more about the film itself another day; for now, we’re concerned with the history and stats of reaching 200.

As I said, this is the third time I’ve got there. The two previous occasions were 2015, when a last-minute scramble saw me get there on December 30th (December 2015 is still my second-highest December ever, behind only 2008, which was a similar scramble to reach #100); and 2018, when I got there on September 22nd. This year, I got there today, September 3rd, thereby setting a new record.

It also means that I’ve reached #200 more times than I’ve failed to even reach #100 (the failures were 2009, which ended at #94, and 2012, which got to #97).

And, of course, there’s still almost four whole months of the year left. Let’s run some numbers and see what we can predict about them…

For starters, it’s a sort-of-logical deduction to conclude that, if it took (just over) two-thirds of the year to reach #200, surely the final third should get me to #300 more or less exactly. Is that possible? Well, yes. I’d have to achieve an average of 25 films per month (in fact, 25.5, because #199 and #200 count as part of September), but already this year I’ve had five months that passed 25 films, and the average for the whole year so far is 24.75, which is almost there. But is that likely? Well, I’ve only made it past 20 films in September and November once each (when I did, I got to 23 and 25, respectively), and I’ve never even got to 20 in December. So, the signs aren’t great.

What does history forecast as a more likely outcome, then? My all-time average viewing for September to December is 45.6 films, which this year would see me reach #244. If we narrow that to just the last five years (because a lot has changed in my viewing habits over the past decade-and-a-half), the average becomes 58.8, which would get me to #257 this year.

Switching from averages to specific examples, my worst September-to-December total came in 2011, when in that time I watched 23 films. At the other end of the scale, the best was in 2015, when I watched 82 films in those four months. If those extremes happened this year, I’d make it to either #221 or #280, respectively. If I managed to equal my best-ever totals for each individual month, I’d end on #296; but if I repeated my worst-ever individual month results, I’d only get to #215.

You’ll note that every one of these predictions falls short of #300.

Things don’t look good for reaching the big three-oh-oh, then. In fact, it’s questionable whether I can even beat my previous best (261 in 2018) — of the six history-based predictions I’ve run through, only two get me above that.

But the idea that I could reach #200 within one year used to seem totally impossible, so never say never…

0202 tsuguA fo weiveR ylhtnoM ehT

It’s been quite a year, but now things are returning to normal… or some people are pretending they are, anyway. I mean, schools are going back, cinemas have reopened, and my film viewing has dropped back down towards 2019 levels.

Worse, my reviews are lagging. It’s been a whole year since I hit 2,000 listed reviews, but I’m still over 50 away from actually being able to say I’ve published 2,000 film reviews. Hopefully I’ll get there before the end of 2020. In particular, I’ve fallen behind with my 100-week roundups already; and there was no new TV column this month, which was also a mistake. I’m aiming to get both back on track in September.

For now, though, let’s reflect on what I did watch and post in August…


#185 Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
#186 The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador (1912), aka Le mystère des roches de Kador
#186a The Stunt Double (2020)
#187 RoboCop 3 (1993)
#188 Color Out of Space (2019)
#188a Frankenstein (1910)
#189 The Man Who Laughs (1928)
#189a The Dancing Pig (1907), aka Le cochon danseur
#190 Pearl Harbor (2001)
#191 Yes, God, Yes (2019)
#192 The Assistant (2019)
#193 Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)
#194 Bad Boys for Life (2020)
#195 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
#196 Tolkien (2019)
#197 The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story (2019)
#198 Entrapment (1999)
Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Bad Boys for Life

Entrapment

.


  • I watched 14 new feature films in August.
  • That beats January’s 12, so it’s not the lowest month of 2020, but it’s also the first month since February with a total below 28.
  • It’s my eighth month in a row with 10 or more features, which is my second-longest streak of months with 10+ films. (The longest is 60 months, from June 2014 to May 2019, so there’s literally years to go before I rival that again.)
  • It tops the August average (previously 12.5, now 12.6), but falls short of the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 19.3, now 18.9) and the average for 2020 to date (previously 26.3, now 24.75).
  • I may not have quite got to #200 this month, but #198 is still the furthest I’ve ever reached by the end of August. It also means 2020 overtakes 2016 to become my third highest year ever, with four months still to go.
  • Further to what I wrote last month about years from which I’d never seen a feature film, The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador is my first from 1912. That just leaves 1915 as the only year since the US and UK started producing features (in 1912) from which I haven’t seen a film.
  • Watching Pearl Harbor means I’ve now seen all of Michael Bay’s films. That and 6 Underground are still scheduled for review, leaving only The Island unreviewed on this blog. I last saw it at the cinema back in 2005. I quite liked it and always meant to revisit it (I even own the DVD, but obviously never watched it (typical)). At some point I’ll get round to that rewatch and cover it then.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched The Assistant, Bad Boys for Life, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Color Out of Space, and Never Rarely Sometimes Always.
  • Talking of failures, I didn’t watch a Blindspot film this month. That’s the first time I’ve slipped in 2020, so hopefully I’ll just catch it up next month.



The 63rd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
The notion of whether “favourite” means “best” or “most enjoyable” is on my mind with this month’s selection. Probably the best film I saw this month was abortion drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always, but, understandably, it wasn’t “enjoyable” per se. On the other side, then, the film I’m most likely to end up purchasing and rewatching is, a bit to my surprise, Bad Boys for Life — as a belated threequel it should by all rights be mediocre, but I think it might actually be the best instalment of the trilogy.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Nothing truly terrible this month (at least not among the features — some of the shorts I was less enamoured of), but something must be chosen. I enjoyed Pearl Harbor more than most, so it would seem unfair to pick that. Instead, I’ll say The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador, which I was sold on by Movies Silently’s review but unfortunately didn’t enjoy that much. Never mind.

Film I Haven’t Actually Seen But Nonetheless Used as a Title Theme of the Month
It’s Tenet, ylsuoivbo.

Decade I Most Miss of the Month
Entrapment reminded me how much fun a solid studio programmer could be. Two stars, a few reasonably-scaled action scenes, and a mid-range budget add up to a couple of hours of fun. Not a great movie, but one I enjoyed enough to not regret the time spent watching it. It’s the kind of thing the major Hollywood studios are backing away from in favour of just making mega-budget super-blockbuster tentpoles, but that smaller indie studios aren’t up to providing. I feel like the ’90s did that kind of thing particularly well, too.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
No one post really caught on this month — this month’s highest charting new post was down at 55th overall (behind mostly TV columns, but also a dozen older film reviews). Even my review of a new release (Yes, God, Yes) didn’t generate a huge number of clicks (I guess it is a pretty niche title), although the victor only beat it by one hit. Said victor was Ready or Not.



My Rewatchathon continues at pace, which means I’m still about a month ahead of schedule. Although this month I finished a series that’s been a major part of it this year…

#34 Pursuit to Algiers (1945)
#35 The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
#36 Terror by Night (1946)
#37 Dressed to Kill (1946)

The first time I watched the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series, it took me eight years. Now, I’ve rewatched them all in eight months. A much more reasonable pace, let’s be honest (the first time I was spacing them out so as not to rush them, but took it a bit far…) My original reviews are linked above, and I put some new thoughts on Letterboxd about Pursuit to Algiers, Terror by Night, and Dressed to Kill in these links.

My fourth film this month was also Sherlock Holmes themed, albeit turned into a mouse courtesy of, appropriately enough, the Mouse House. Disney’s 26th animated film used to be known as Basil the Great Mouse Detective here in the UK, but it’s been brought in line with the US for the Disney+ era. I’m only surprised it took them so long. (Now, if they could just sort out the UK list of the Animated Canon…) I’ve been on a bit of a Sherlock Holmes kick this year, so it was only natural I’d revisit Disney’s version. It manages to be both a very good Disney movie and a very good Sherlock Holmes one at the same time, mixing the comedy and charm of Disney animation with a healthy dash of the investigation and adventure of a Holmes story. It comes just before what fans call the Disney Renaissance, but it’s also directly responsible for it: after the failure of The Black Cauldron, Disney’s animation studio was under threat, but the success of The Great Mouse Detective allowed them to continue. The rest, as they say, is history.


After four months of no cinema releases to comment on, they’re back! It’s a gradual re-opening, of course, with Tenet the only truly major title on wide UK release so far (The New Mutants had previews, but isn’t technically out until this Friday). At least some people I follow on Twitter seem to have dived back in headfirst, but I remain a little wary — as I said earlier, I’ve not seen Tenet yet; whether that’ll change in the coming week or two, I’m undecided.

Netflix attempted to fill the blockbuster void with originals like Project Power, a super-powered action-thriller starring Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but the mediocre reviews put me off actually watching it (so far). This month they also bolstered their catalogue with the fourth and final Ip Man movie, and the only Tim Burton film Iv’e not seen, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Over on Amazon Prime Video, meanwhile, new-ish additions included Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang and true-story whistleblower thriller Official Secrets. Other newcomers of note include Mississippi Grind, which I heard recommended a couple of years ago and have been waiting for a chance to see since, and Roger Corman / Vincent Price horror The Masque of the Red Death, which is supposedly due on disc in a new 4K restoration later this year, but I don’t know if Amazon are streaming that.

As for the other streamers, Sky Cinema / Now TV had Terry Gilliam’s much-delayed The Man Who Killed Don Quixote; Disney+ had diverted-from-cinemas The One and Only Ivan (which I think I’ll give a miss anyway) and a doc about lyricist Howard Ashman, Howard (which does interest me); BBC iPlayer has a pair of films I’d like to rewatch, The Lost Boys and Love & Friendship, not to mention the original Poltergeist, which I’ve never seen; and on All 4 I missed the chance to see Wild Tales (the 183rd greatest film ever according to IMDb voters).

Finally, my new purchases on disc, of which there were a lot — some 54 films I could list (egads!) The bulk of those come from Arrow’s Gamera box set (with 12 films plus four alternate cuts), although Criterion’s Bruce Lee set was no slouch (with seven films plus one extended cut). The latter came as part of a belated order placed during Barnes & Noble’s Criterion sale back in July, which also included 1984, Come and See, and the four-part 1966-7 War and Peace; plus their editions of films I’ve already seen like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious. There were also a bunch of silents (I got good deals on eBay for US DVDs of the French serials Judex and The House of Mystery; plus an import of a French DVD set of French films from French director Raymond Bernard; and Masters of Cinema’s latest Buster Keaton three-feature box set) and a bunch of noirs (more from Masters of Cinema in the shape of No Way Out and Fritz Lang’s The Woman in the Window; and Blu-ray upgrades for the BFI’s releases of three Otto Preminger noirs and Jules Dassin’s Night and the City). Meanwhile, on 4K, I got Arrow’s UK format debut, Pitch Black, and their US format debut, but in its UK edition from StudioCanal, Flash Gordon (in a tat-filled box set. I love tat. It’s always kinda disappointing when you actually get it, but I can’t resist).

And that isn’t even everything, but it’s more than enough to be going on about.


Mulan comes to Disney+ for an additional fee (which varies by region). I’ll tell you this for nothing: I won’t be paying it.

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Monthly Review of July 2020

Man, 2020 is non-stop!

If you’ve come here from a tweet or email link, we’re three sentences in and had three Hamilton references already. Well, I did draft about half-a-dozen Hamilton-related titles for this review, so a few more may sneak in yet. While I devote my energies to thinking of some, let’s get on with the usual business…


#156 The Ipcress File (1965)
#157 Hamilton (2020)
#158 Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
#159 A Dog’s Will (2000), aka O Auto da Compadecida
#159a David Lynch Cooks Quinoa (2007)
#160 Make Mine Music (1946)
#161 Chariots of Fire (1981)
#162 The Old Guard (2020)
#163 Palm Springs (2020)
#164 Greyhound (2020)
#165 The Scorpion King (2002)
#166 Dangal (2016)
#167 The Lighthouse (2019)
#168 Melody Time (1948)
#169 Fun & Fancy Free (1947)
#170 Uncut Gems (2019)
#171 Lady Bird (2017)
#172 Safety Last! (1923)
#173 Love on a Leash (2011)
#174 The Wolf’s Call (2019), aka Le chant du loup
#175 Hunter Killer (2018)
#176 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
#177 Le Mans ’66 (2019), aka Ford v Ferrari
#178 Bloodshot (2020)
#179 Der Hund von Baskerville (1914), aka The Hound of the Baskervilles
#180 The French Connection (1971)
#181 Venom (2018)
#182 Spaceship Earth (2020)
#183 Clueless (1995)
#184 Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Hamilton

Palm Springs

Safety Last!

Spaceship Earth

.


  • I watched 29 new feature films in July.
  • That makes it my third best month of 2020; but, more impressively, it’s also my sixth best month ever — out of 163 months, that puts it in the top 4%.
  • It’s also my fifth month in a row with over 20 films, which is my second-longest run of 20+ months, right behind the six months from February to July 2018.
  • It also finally pulls July’s all-time average up above 10.0. I’ve been looking to get all the months’ averages up that high for years, and July has been the real hold-out (it didn’t help that in 2009 its total was 0). In fact, it’s now 11.0, meaning all months are at 11+ except for November — but having them all above 10 is fine; I’m not going to actively try to pull them up anymore.
  • In terms of other averages, it bests both the average for 2020 to date (previously 25.8, now 26.3) and the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 17.3, now 19.3).
  • #184 is the furthest I’ve reached by the end of July, beating the next best by 11 films. In fact, compared to my worst-ever year (2009), I’m 146 ahead.
  • It also means I’ve already passed 2017’s final total, guaranteeing 2020 an all-time rank of at least third. With five months of the year left, I only need to watch 18 more films for second — that seems all but guaranteed, though never say never. For first place it’s 79 more, an average of 16 a month — at my current rate, eminently plausible; but last year I watched 48 films in that timespan, so (again) never say never.
  • Back in April, I identified the handful of years from which I’d never seen a feature film. I crossed off two more of those this month, thanks to Safety Last! for 1923 and Der Hund von Baskerville for 1914. That just leaves 1912 and 1915
  • And talking of completing years, Lady Bird and Le Mans ’66 mean I’ve completed the Oscar Best Picture nominees from 2018 and 2020, respectively. I just need one more (Vice from 2019) to complete the last five years. I was obviously less circumspect earlier in the decade, though, because to complete back to 2011 I need a further ten films
  • This month’s Blindspot film: an archetypal ’70s crime thriller with a noir vibe, The French Connection — and it’s as good as that sounds. Plus one from my overflow list, ’60s anti-Bond spy thriller The Ipcress File — which, sadly, I was a little underwhelmed by (primarily because I expect to adore it, though; it is very good).
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched The Lighthouse.



The 62nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Debate may have raged in some places about whether it should count as a film or not, but clearly I’m going with “does count”, and therefore I get to declare Hamilton may favourite of the month. It’s also currently the 26th best film of all time on IMDb’s top list, so I’m clearly not alone.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
I watched three submarine-related movies this month: Greyhound because it was new, but that gave me an itch to watch a ‘proper’ submarine movie, and French thriller The Wolf’s Call was already on my watchlist, and that was so enjoyable that I still fancied more after that, so I turned to Hunter Killer — which I shouldn’t have, because it’s awful.

Worst Understanding of Geography of the Month
We turn again to Hunter Killer for an entertaining bit of “American filmmakers not understanding foreign geography”. Gerard Butler’s submarine captain is picked up by helicopter while on a hunting holiday in the Scottish highlands, to take him to his sub at the naval docks in Faslane — about 80 miles away. We next see him at Faslane, where his XO asks how was his trip in from Portsmouth, another major naval port in the UK. So, if that’s right, he went from the highlands to Portsmouth and then to Faslane — a 1,000-mile round trip. I guess no one on that film bothered to look at a map…

Best Song Not in Hamilton of the Month
Apologies to the four Disney musicals that I watched, plus any original songs cropping up in any of the other films I watched, but not much can beat the little ditties sung by the canine hero of Love on a Leash. “King of the castle! / King of the castle that’s also a dog / And lives in a house that is green. / What is that about?” Lin-Manuel Miranda must be quaking in his boots.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
One of the most widely-popular cultural phenomena of our time, finally made available to a wide audience of both die-hard fans and the curious, and my review has had almost the whole month to accumulate hits. Yes, entirely predictably (to the extent that I wrote this blurb on the 5th and haven’t touched a word of it), July’s most-viewed new post was Hamilton.

That said, The Old Guard ended up coming pretty close; and they were both beaten by last month’s #1, my review of Netflix’s Eurovision movie, which is on track to be my most popular film review of 2020 (though who knows what the rest of the year will bring…)



My Rewatchathon continues to be a month ahead of pace, with #33 being where I should’ve reached by the end of August.

#31 The Princess Bride (1987)
#32 Hamilton (2020)
#33 The Woman in Green (1945)

Regular readers will know I’m not a huge re-watcher (hence the Rewatchathon) — if I watch a film again within about five years I consider it “soon” — and yet here I am watching Hamilton twice in a month. Well, you put it on just to watch a bit and then you can’t stop. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns up in 2020’s Rewatchathon again yet…

I’ve rewatched The Princess Bride twice now without adding it to my “Guide To” series. It’s not like I haven’t got a big enough backlog anyway, right? I expect I’ll cover it someday. For now, I naturally posted some thoughts on Letterboxd after my most recent viewing.

The Woman in Green continues my rewatch of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series. I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as I’d remembered — it has some great ideas and good sequences, but it somehow doesn’t gel as well as it should on this viewing. Nonetheless, there’s enough to admire that I still rate it pretty highly, including Henry Daniell as the series’ best Moriarty.


Cinemas may still be mostly closed, and consequently there’s a shortage of new releases, but that certainly hasn’t stopped the streamers pumping out content, both new exclusives and archive titles (indeed, that’s probably why they are). Top of the pops for brand-new stuff this month was a Bollywood film, Dil Bechara, which catapulted to the top of the IMDb Top 250 chart thanks to eager fans rating it highly. The algorithm kicked in and it plummeted right back off it again, but in terms of raw numbers it’s still right up there. It’s streaming free on Hotstar if you want to see if it lives up to the fuss.

As I said, the regular streamers piled on the content this month, more so Amazon than Netflix, with originals like How to Build a Girl and Honey Boy, the subscription debuts of theatrical films like Midway and Knives Out, and archive titles like 1947 Best Picture winner The Best Years of Our Lives and 1985 contender The Killing Fields They also briefly had the new Charlie’s Angels, for about 24 hours before someone realised the mistake — it was due on Sky Cinema / Now TV about a week later. Perhaps that means it’ll be coming to Amazon eventually; perhaps someone just pressed the wrong button. Also catching my eye was The Mask of Zorro in 4K. That came out on disc in the US back in May, but we haven’t been so lucky. I hope that changes, because it’s a great film and the new transfer looks far superior to the old Blu-ray, but until then I might just watch it on Amazon. They also have the sequel, The Legend of Zorro, also in 4K, which hasn’t been treated to a disc release anywhere, probably because of it’s poor reputation. I don’t think I’ve seen it since the cinema in 2005 (even though I own it on DVD), so it’s due a revisit.

Amazon have also had a load more of their discounted-for-Prime-members rentals recently, so I’ve stocked up on the likes of The Assistant, Bad Boys for Life, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Color Out of Space, and Never Rarely Sometimes Always. All of those should feature in August’s viewing. I’ve also been tempted to splash the cash on plenty of Blu-rays, thanks to endless sales and offers. Barnes & Noble aren’t currently shipping to the UK, so I’ve missed out on their biannual Criterion sale, but I was so set for it that I forked out a bit more to get the titles from Amazon US (who don’t price match the sale, but get pretty close). Stock issues mean that order hasn’t even dispatched yet, so hopefully next month. Sales that have tempted me and have arrived include from Arrow (The Andromeda Strain, Aniara, Crime and Punishment, Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn, and Zardoz), HMV’s Premium Collection (two more Hitchcocks, I Confess and The Wrong Man, plus Key Largo, The Thing from Another World, To Have and Have Not, and Wait Until Dark), and Zoom (4K upgrades for Arrival, The Revenant, and Split). And talking of things to 4K, films to rewatch, and imports, I snagged the US 4K release of Parasite. I doubt we’re going to get treated to that in the UK, and the recently-announced Criterion release won’t be 4K. I might still get it for the special features, though.

And if that wasn’t enough, I also picked up some new releases, including Master of Cinema’s set of three Edgar Allen Poe adaptations starring Bela Lugosi, those being The Raven, Murders in the Rue Morgue, and The Black Cat, which is noteworthy for being the fifth adaptation of that short story that I own (and I haven’t watched any of them!)


Tenet.

Or maybe not. Who knows what state we’ll be in by the time that’s due at the end of the month?

The Jaja Ding Dong (Ding Dong!) Monthly Review of June 2020

My love for you is wide and long, dear readers, and so (one of) the breakout hit(s) from Netflix’s Eurovision movie seemed the only appropriate title for this month’s review.

Also, I didn’t have any better ideas. I mean, I could’ve called it “halfway”, because we are halfway through the year and I’m going to talk about that… but it’s not as fun, is it?


#128 The Children Act (2017)
#129 Paris When It Sizzles (1964)
#130 Shadowlands (1993)
#131 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
#132 The Gay Divorcee (1934)
#133 The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)
#134 The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
#135 Split Second (1992)
#136 Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)
#137 The Old Dark House (1932)
#138 The Rhythm Section (2020)
#139 The Vast of Night (2019)
#140 The Armour of God (1986), aka Lung hing foo dai
#141 Gemini Man (2019)
#142 Cairo Station (1958), aka Bab el hadid
#143 Tomb Raider 3D (2018)
#144 7500 (2019)
#145 Do the Right Thing (1989)
#146 Shazam! 3D (2019)
#147 Crawl (2019)
#148 Chicken Run (2000)
#149 Man on Wire (2008)
#150 Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)
#151 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
#152 Polytechnique (2009)
#153 Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)
#154 The Invisible Man (2020)
#155 Without a Clue (1988)
Paris When It Sizzles

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

The Old Dark House

The Invisible Man

.


  • I watched 28 new feature films in June.
  • It’s my joint-3rd best month of 2020 (tied with March), which is right in the middle when you remember there have only been six months… but 2020 is clearly an exceptional year, because it’s also in the top 5% of months all-time.
  • It’s also my best June ever, beating the 21 of June 2018.
  • Naturally, that means it stomps all over the June average (previously 10.0, now 11.4).
  • It also sails past the rolling average of the last 12 months (previously 15.3, now 17.3), and also pips the average for 2020 so far (previously 25.4, now 25.8).
  • Reaching #155 means I’ve already passed my final total from last year, making 2020 already my fifth highest totalling year ever.

Now, some observations on the actual films I watched…

  • They included my 2,000th film for this blog. I wrote about that here.
  • I was also particularly glad to get a chance to see Cairo Station, one of the five films I flagged from The Story of Film: An Odyssey (my 1,000th film) back in August 2015. In the almost-five-years since that post, I’ve seen two of those films. Of the other three, I’ve owned one on Blu-ray for several years; another was released on Blu-ray in the UK last November; and the fifth recently came out on Blu-ray in the US. So, I could/should be completing them by now…
  • This month’s Blindspot film: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which is exceptionally pertinent right now — which, considering it’s now over 30 years old, is rather depressing. A great film, though.
  • From last month’s “failures” I watched Crawl, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, The Peanut Butter Falcon, The Rhythm Section, and The Vast of Night.

Finally, returning to statistics: the end of June marks the halfway point of the year, of course, and at #155 it’s the furthest I’ve ever reached by this point (beating #145 in 2018). So, to mark the occasion, I’ve gone back over previous years to see what I can learn about the first half of the year as a predictor for the second.

  • Logic might suggest the second half would be double the first, but that’s never been the case.
  • Of the previous 13 years, five saw the second half more than double the first, with the other eight showing a decrease (obviously).
  • The biggest discrepancy came last year, 2019, when I did 64.9% of my film viewing in the first half of the year, leaving just 35.1% in the second.
  • The biggest swing the other way was in 2009, when I watched 40.4% in the first half of the year and 59.6% in the second.
  • On average, the second half of the year accounts for 48.3% of my viewing; though if we look at just the last five years, that drops to 44.8%.
  • So, as a predictor for 2020, if I follow the all-time average I should end the year on #305 — holy moly! A feat that never seemed possible, considering I’ve only passed #200 twice.
  • If I take the average of just the last five years, I only reach #283 — which would still be my highest year ever by over 20 films.
  • And, compared to the two extremes detailed above, anything below #239 would be a new second-half low (in percentage terms), while a new high would see me watch over 383 films! The latter would mean a monthly average of 38.1 for the rest of the year — higher than I’ve ever reached in a single month. I really don’t see that happening.
  • Leaving percentages behind, the average number of films I’ve watched in July-to-December is 69, which this year would put my final total at 224.
  • Lest all this sound like plain sailing to a number definitively above 200, my weakest-ever July-to-December was 33 in 2011, which, if repeated, would see 2020 end on 188. Never say never…



The 61st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Lots of stuff I liked a great deal this month, and as usual it’s hard to compare such wildly different films. For surprise value, I’m drawn towards Paris When It Sizzles — it doesn’t seem to be well-rated on the whole, but it’s a lot of fun as a kind of “insider’s view” Hollywood spoof that feels ahead of its time.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
No outright bad movies this month, in my estimation, but there were more than a couple that didn’t live up to my expectations. Perhaps the worst of these was Crawl, purely because it was doing so much better early on than it was by the end.

Song That Most Stands a Chance at the Oscars of the Month
God only knows what’s going to be going on at the Oscars next year, but they should be more amenable to streaming movies than ever, and that might open the door for a song from The Story of Fire Saga to get in — if there’s one thing most people who’ve watched it can agree on, it’s that the original songs are rather catchy (in a Eurovision-y way). Heck, why just one? In the past, multiple songs from the same film have made it, so never rule that out (I have no idea how the rules for the song category work). But if only one song makes it then… no, it won’t be Jaja Ding Dong (well, you never know). It might be Volcano Man, just because that had several weeks of advance play due to being released as a kind of teaser trailer. But judged as an actual song, the big emotive climactic number Husavik surely deserves a shot.

Most Desirable House of the Month
I can see why Jimmie Fails obsesses over restoring, maintaining, and (re)acquiring that house in The Last Black Man in San Francisco — it’s gorgeous. Until it gets that makeover at the end, anyway (um, spoilers? I dunno).

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Maybe it’s because there’s nothing new in cinemas. Maybe it’s because Eurovision remains popular in many places, as does Will Ferrell. Whatever the cause, Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga has generated a lot of chatter since its release last Friday, and so it’s of little surprise that my release-day review has attracted a fair few visitors. It easily tops this month’s chart (both new and all-time posts), and has overtaken another Netflix original, Extraction, to be my most-viewed film review of 2020 so far.



This month, my Rewatchathon movies forward at give-or-take its intended pace — which, after last month’s bumper crop, means I’m still over a month ahead of schedule.

#27 The Scarlet Claw (1944)
#28 Gambit (1966)
#29 The Pearl of Death (1944)
#30 The House of Fear (1945)

Three of those continue my rewatch of the Sherlock Holmes series starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. My original reviews are linked above; the following links are to new thoughts on Letterboxd. In summary, I think The Scarlet Claw remains my overall favourite from the series, but I enjoyed both The Pearl of Death and, in particular, The House of Fear a lot more this time — together, the trio are definitely among the series’ best.

As for Gambit, it made my yearly top ten back in 2011, but if anything I enjoyed it even more on this second watch. I’d remembered the famous first-act trick, of course, but forgotten the substance of all the twists at the end, which kept it exciting. It’s so much fun in between too, and moves like a rocket without ever feeling rushed.


Cinemas remain closed, but that hasn’t put a stop to new releases, with the likes of Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day in New York and Simon Bird’s Days of the Bagnold Summer heading direct to rental. Plus, there was an even more high-profile new release in Spike Lee’s acclaimed movie for Netflix, Da 5 Bloods.

Other titles new to the preeminent streamer that caught my eye include action movie VFW; last year’s animated revival of The Addams Family; documentary The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story; and almost a dozen movies directed by Youssef Chahine — I watched the most noteworthy one, Cairo Station, but I’ve seen several others recommended. I also noticed Line of Duty pop up, but only because it was released theatrically here as In the Line of Duty, presumably to avoid conflict with the popular TV series, but Netflix have reverted to its original title. I don’t remember it being well reviewed, so I won’t be rushing to catch up with it.

Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video offered the new Shaun the Sheep movie, Farmageddon, which I’ve been looking forward to getting round to. Also a couple of documentaries, one titled Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show, which kind of sums up its topic, and the other about a pioneering early female filmmaker, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (which still hasn’t been picked up by the site I use to track additions to Amazon, so it may’ve been there a while for all I know). Also standing out from the pack was the brilliantly titled Django and Sartana Are Coming, It’s the End (the titles seem to be the best thing about any of the movies starring Sartana) and a steampunk adaptation of The Secret Garden. Um, what? Colour me curious.

Once again, Sky Movies / Now TV suffered by comparison. Mr. Jones sounds interesting, but has the kind of grim subject matter that’s going to make me keep putting it off; I didn’t mind the first one, which hardly pushes Maleficent: Mistress of Evil to the top of my must-see list (I didn’t even bother to put it on last year’s ’50 unseen’ list); and I’m not sure I’ve seen enough Kevin Smith films to really ‘get’ Jay & Silent Bob Reboot… but, hey, I guess it is a reboot, right?

Oh, and lest you think I’d curbed my spending this month, oh dear me, no. Recent films finally hitting disc here included The Lighthouse and Pixar’s Onward (in 3D, natch), while new releases of catalogue titles included 88 Films’ latest Jackie Chan release, Armour of God II: Operation Condor (hence why I watched the first one this month); Eureka adding film noir Criss Cross to their Masters of Cinema line; and BFI issuing a restored Tokyo Story, a film I’ve been meaning to rewatch for a very long time. And offer pricing was once again the siren to my wallet’s sailor: from the BFI, The Crying Game, doco Mifune: The Last Samurai, and their Early Women Filmmakers box set (with seven features and 15 shorts, including several by the aforementioned Alice Guy-Blaché); from a Masters of Cinema twofer, Faust and Witness for the Prosecution; and from the recent UK Criterion offer, Fail Safe, Holiday, Kiss Me Deadly, and Solaris. I think I would’ve caved to more in the latter, but I’m trying to hold some money back for the Barnes & Noble Criterion offer that should be starting in a couple of weeks. I can never have enough set aside for that…


UK cinemas are set to reopen… but how long will that last? Will anyone go? The major films scheduled for July have already been pushed (again) to August, leaving only re-releases and some small-scale new releases with nothing to lose by testing the waters. Hardly an enticing slate, especially when the safety measures on offer are dubious (personally, I’m almost entirely put off by the lack of reserved seating at Odeon). Some people would like to pretend this is all over, but anything could still change any day…

Well, at least we’ll definitely have Hamilton on Disney+.